Few NCAA Div. III punters were as impactful as Matt Mahaffey when it came to changing the complexion of a game. Three times, the "golden boot" of The College of Wooster football program finished a season north of 40 yards per punt, and the four-year standout was a third-team selection to the inaugural D3football.com All-America team as a senior.
Mahaffey's contributions weren't limited to punting, as the Westerville, Ohio, product spent two years doubling as one of Wooster's top wideouts. His highlights there included a 63-yard, third-quarter touchdown reception versus Grove City College in 1997 that stood as the winning score of a 10-3 clash. In fact, he finished within the top three on the team in receiving yards in 1996 and 1997.
"Matt's development as a player mirrors that of many of the young men we coached and who committed to our football program at Wooster, though he certainly took it up a few notches relative to most," said Jim Barnes, the head coach at the time.
Sophomore year is when Mahaffey started to hit his stride. The left-footed punter upped his per-boot average nearly seven yards to 41.4, and was rewarded with the first of three consecutive first-team all-North Coast Athletic Conference honors. With Wooster rolling in all three phases of the game – the Scots averaged 34.5 points per game and held the opposition to 14.1 – the program won its first NCAC title, and first conference championship in 38 years.
"Matt's performance as our punter was integral to earning the NCAC title," added Barnes. "Our offense was still developing and though it showed some explosive potential for big plays, Matt's ability to flip the field with his punting was key. That allowed our strong defense the opportunity to return the football to our offense with more favorable field position. His leadership helped give us tremendous championship-level balance in all three phases of the game."
Wooster's team success helped Mahaffey start to get noticed nationally come his junior year. Now exclusively focused on punting, Mahaffey averaged 41.2 yards per boot – a total fifth in Div. III – placed 11 of his 39 punts inside the opposition's 20-yard line, and had a long of 70 yards. The College Sports Information Directors of America took note of the Wooster sensation, and voted him to its All-America third-team and to the prestigious Academic All-America® second-team.
Mahaffey's consistency carried over to his senior year, during which he placed 23-of-49 punts inside the 20-yard line, while averaging 40.5 yards per boot overall. He earned All-America honors from Football Gazette in addition to being elevated to the Academic All-America® first-team.
"We knew Matt had a special gift in punting the football and he certainly capitalized on that potential," summed up Barnes. "I am sure Matt would give credit to our long snappers and the protection he received as well, however it was primarily his commitment and pursuit of excellence that made him outstanding and a huge difference-maker for our team."
Highly active on campus, the business economics alumnus served as president of the Student Government Association as a senior, and thanks to a perfect mix of academics, athletics, and extracurriculars, was awarded a prestigious NCAA postgraduate scholarship, which he utilized to obtain an M.B.A. from The Ohio State University.
Since graduating, Mahaffey's focus has been in real estate, and he's currently an investor for Nationwide Insurance in Columbus. There, Mahaffey leads the origination of real estate investment for a $750 million portfolio.
Personally, Mahaffey and his wife, Sarah, call Columbus home, and are the parents of two sons, Jack (10) and Will (8).